Nurses Recommend Gifts to Give (and Not to Give) for Nurses Week

Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN
Updated August 30, 2023
    Sometimes Nurses Week gifts fall flat. This year, give the nurse in your life something that says, "I see and appreciate you."
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    Have you ever received a nice gift wrapped in a newspaper? As well-intended as the gift may have been, the sentiment is lost in poor packaging.

    This often happens during Nurses Week: Administration hands out free pens, and nurses feel less appreciated than if they’d received nothing at all.

    To avoid any gift-giving confusion this year, we asked working nurses what gifts make them feel valued. Read on to see what gifts you should buy the nurses in your life — and which ones you should leave on the shelf.

    check-circle What Gifts to Give Nurses for Nurses Week

    After more than two years of nurses working hard through the COVID-19 pandemic, a common sentiment among nurses is a desire to focus on their mental health and well-being. Employers can help nurses do this by providing staff with gifts that promote self-care at work and at home.

    Nurses share what this looks like to them.

    Ria’s Whipped Shea Butter

    Nurses’ hands go through A LOT, which is why Marie Davis, CNA, created Ria’s Whipped Shea Butter hand lotion. She crafted the whipped shea butter concoction after battling eczema and is sharing her nourishing hand repair with fellow nurses.

    The relaxing lotion is available on Amazon,, and Etsy.

    Hair Tie Hub

    You know that feeling when you’re gearing up for a messy diaper change? You roll your sleeves up, clearing some space to double-glove, when suddenly that hair tie that was once around your wrist has disappeared.

    Britney Khuu, CNA, helped create the portable hair tie holder, so nurses no longer have this problem. Check out the Hair Tie Hub next time you need to buy a gift for a long-haired nurse!

    Bonuses, Pay Raises, and PTO

    We spoke to Rakiema Sellars-Pompey, an RN and nursing student working toward her DNP. As a nurse, she wants to see an increase in appreciation for the hard work of nurses beyond pizza parties and other non-useful items.

    Put simply, Sellars-Pompey said the appreciation for nurses is lacking. She suggests that the administration provide bonuses, pay raises, and additional paid time off (PTO) as a way to show gratitude to their nurses.

    “More than anything, nurses want to be acknowledged and appreciated for their hard work,” she said. “Nurses are the cornerstone of the hospital system, without them, there would be no patient care being conducted.”

    Transport Subsidies

    McCarthy says another way to support nurses is through public programs like transport subsidies. This would help keep the prices down for nurses who rely on public transportation to get to work.

    Self-Care Gifts

    Managers can help their staff feel supported at home by gifting self-care products for nurses. Giorgio Falcão, BSN, RN, suggests giving nurses aromatherapy products or candles to help relieve the stress of a shift. A bottle of peppermint oil is an easy gift to hand out to staff. It’s a soothing way to relieve tension headaches during a long shift!

    “Although all gifts are appreciated, less-thoughtful gifts (like pizza for the unit or branded pens) aren’t the most useful to give a nurse for Nurses Week,” Falcão says. “In reality, gifts centered around self-care are the most important, especially in the midst of a global pandemic.”

    Skincare Products

    Another way to promote self-care is by finding the right skincare regimen for nurses. You can help nurses take care of their skin by gifting a small bottle of toner or cleanser this Nurses Week.

    Massage or Facial Gift Cards

    If you’re feeling generous this year, consider giving your nurse(s) a spa gift card. Remember, self-care isn’t self-indulgent. Treatments like facials and massages help release toxins from the body and relieve tense muscles from the physical nature of the job.

    It’s a productive way for nurses to recharge on their day off and show up for their patients.

    Chair Massagers

    If spa gift cards aren’t in your budget, consider giving a chair massager. This could even be presented as a unit-wide gift that stays in the break room, allowing nurses to enjoy a quick massage while on break. Sanitizing the chair in between uses will keep it clean and germ-free in the communal space.

    Gifts That Support Healthy Eating

    Falcão says managers can support nurses’ well-being by helping them make healthy food choices. This may include giving nurses healthy snacks or items that support meal prep.

    Managers can also say, “we respect your desire to eat well” by providing gift cards to health food stores or meal kit services.

    Gift Cards to Uniform Vendors

    Uniform stores are a one-stop shop for nurses to purchase scrubs or supplies like badge reels, calipers, and stethoscopes. If you’re considering gift cards to uniform vendors, check out which companies offer special deals and discounts for nurses.

    Quality Scrubs

    Hospital-supplied scrubs are good for the days when you’re covered in vomit and need a change of clothes. But for the days you want to feel fresh and professional, check out brands like Moxie Scrubs. They make high-quality scrubs designed by nurses for nurses.

    Quality Shoes

    High-quality shoes may be one of the most important purchases a nurse makes. Not only are nurses on their feet for the majority of a shift, but the job may require occasional running!

    If you’re not sure of their shoe size or preference, gift your nurses with gift cards or discount codes to shoe suppliers.

    Compression Socks

    When buying compression socks, aim for 15-20 mmHg (the amount of pressure they’ll provide for tired legs). Compression socks are also good gifts for nurses who like to travel internationally. Experts recommend wearing them on long flights to prevent blood clots.

    New Stethoscope

    A stethoscope is a big purchase for nurses, making it such a thoughtful gift. Just be sure to include a name tag, so there aren’t any mix-ups among other nurses or healthcare staff.

    Nice Quality, Personalized Items

    Speaking of labeling nurses’ belongings, consider personalizing a gift item this year. You can add a nurse’s monogram or name to reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, or anything that has the potential to grow legs in the break room.

    Journals With Nice Pens

    Any nurse in 2022 has something to process. A dream journal or gratitude journal is one way to tell a nurse, “I acknowledge that you are going through something, and I want to help you process it.”

    Pair a journal with a fun-to-write-with pen; nurses will feel seen and heard.

    Gift Cards to Amazon

    When in doubt, get a nurse a gift card to the ultimate one-stop online store. This allows nurses to spend money on what they need most, whether it’s nursing gear, groceries, or something for home they’ve been saving up for.

    x-circle What Gifts to Avoid Giving Nurses

    Sometimes giving a poorly planned gift can be worse than giving nothing at all. Here are the gift-giving mistakes nurses warn hospitals from making.

    Pizza and Ice Cream in the Break Room

    Rakiema Sellars-Pompey says break room events like “ice cream socials” or “pizza parties” can make nurses feel belittled.

    “We aren’t in grade school,” she says.

    Instead of filling the break room with soggy pizza boxes, Sellars-Pompey recommends giving gift cards for “a proper meal instead of unhealthy options.”

    Freebies Available Only During Working Hours

    During Nurses Week, hospitals often offer events and freebies that are only available during day-shift hours. Half of the staff will miss out when you give away items like a massage that’s only available during the day.

    Avoid making that mistake by considering gifts that the entire staff can benefit from.

    Unhealthy Snacks

    Nurses shared that they don’t want to receive candy and other empty-calorie food items. If you want to help a nurse feel nourished on the job, provide snacks that will help them fuel up mid-shift, like nuts or protein bars.

    Hand Sanitizer, Badge Covers, and Pens

    Basic supplies like these should be available for nurses to use on the unit year-round, not handed out once a year.

    Company-Sponsored Items

    Sherry Williams, aka Nurse WOW, says managers should avoid giving out items like lunch boxes, towels, or umbrellas that have the company name on them.

    “Nurses would love to be appreciated with a great gift but do not wish to be a walking billboard for the company,” she says, “even if we love the company.”

    Thank You Postcards With Pictures of Nursing Executives

    It’s bound to happen every year, but overworked nurses receiving a postcard with a photo of their nursing exec is a major morale reducer. Passing these out to staff for Nurses Week will get you met with eye rolls for days.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Marie Davis, CNA

    Marie Davis, CNA

    Ria’s Beauty Collection specializes in skincare and hair care products for those that may be experiencing difficulties with skin and hair issues. Ria’s Beauty Collection launched in 2015, due to Davis’ skin condition with eczema. Ria’s Beauty Collection gives back to the community through donating, gifting, giveaways, vending, collaborating, volunteering, and more.


    Portrait of Giorgio Falcão, BSN, RN

    Giorgio Falcão, BSN, RN

    Giorgio Falcão is a registered nurse and PMHNP candidate. He is a LGBTQIA asylee who has lived in the U.S. for eight years. Since 2019, Falcão has worked as a registered nurse at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in New York City. In addition to being a full-time nurse, he’s working towards a master’s in nursing at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program. Falcão earned a bachelor’s in nursing from CUNY School of Professional Studies as summa cum laude in 2020.


    Portrait of Rakiema Sellars-Pompey, BSN, RN

    Rakiema Sellars-Pompey, BSN, RN

    Rakiema Sellars-Pompey joined the Army in 2000, earned her associate degree in 2003, and graduated with her BSN in 2009. She has emergency nurse certification and is working on a doctor of nursing practice at the University of San Diego.


    Portrait of Sherry Williams, RN

    Sherry Williams, RN

    Sherry Williams, aka Nurse WOW, is a registered nurse who specializes in hyperemesis treatment and overall preventative wellness. Nurse WOW Health & Wellness Services, located in Dallas, offers a wide array of holistic treatment programs with specialties in weight loss management and hyperemesis gravidarum treatment. Nurse WOW also offers essential health and wellness services with her shot bar and IV hydration treatments.